Following on from last week's interview and insight into the Lahore Metal scene, Lahore hosted the second Annual Catacombs festival, featuring Dionysus (reviewed in an earlier column).
Sadly, the MetalTalk treasury; comprising an empty crisp packet (salt and vinegar) and half a bottle of Fosters; wouldn't stretch to a plane ticket, so Minahil Naeem sent me this review.
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Catacombs '13, is the only Metal gig to happen in Lahore this year. All-Metal shows don't happen here that much, probably two or three a year but they're sure the most memorable ones since the bands and the crowds are mostly rage fueled rowdy motherfuckers!
At Catacombs '13, I had the honour of watching Dementia, Dionysus, Foreskin, Blackhour, Bilbatori and Inferner play live. It was cool to see local Metalheads from Lahore, Islamabad and other parts of the country gathered together at one venue to support this ‘not very popular' genre of music in Pakistan and their enthusiasm and support was evident.
Alright, about the venue first. This was a total DIY gig, on a big scale. The venue was a disused public swimming pool. Well it has got more kvlt than back in 2010 at Mosh Pit, a show which happened at Foreskin ex-drummer's backyard when his parents were out of the city. This was crazy, but it worked. Mosh inside an empty pool? HELL YES!
But you know, it worked out in the end. The organizers made use of the resources they had available and that's the TRUE way of doing things. Sound at the show was not the best but so what, this wasn't a fancy show for hipsters. It was meant to be ugly! You want fancy equipment at a Metal show? GTFO!
The first band that performed was called The Mothership and I had never heard of them before. The crowd was pretty thin when they went up on stage and I believe that had something to do with the fact that they didn't construct a lot of energy on stage. Their music wasn't really that gripping either. I hope they do better in the future.
It was evident that the crowd was pretty much only waiting for the main acts and the first main act up was Dementia. Now Dementia are one of the veterans of Lahore's underground, I have to say that they have got it down in all the ways. They know how to kick shit up! I was a part of the crowd and I could observe everyone (including myself) being dragged into the power of their music.
You can't just stand there and listen to Dementia. You just can't. Their original Sworn Annihilation was the highlight of the set.
After their performace, I was really eager to watch Foreskin go up on stage and rip that shit up. The members are pretty badass, mainly because Dionysus and Foreskin both go around together as sister bands. All hell broke loose upon the pit just as Foreskin started off with their first track, which was the cover of Celtic Frost's 'Dethroned Emperor' followed by three originals.
When 'Anger Management''s lead kicked in the crowd went insane! We could hardly see shit. All we knew was that their music demanded moshing. THVG music.
Next up was the death/doom Metal band, Dionysus. Dionysus hasn't been active in the live game for very long since the front man Waleed Ahmed moved to Karachi. But damn! Their music has got some killer riffs that will get stuck in your head. At the Catacombs, I was anxious to see Dionysus perform. It was to be my first time watching them play live. And their performance stood out that night. Clearly.
And this isn't just MY opinion. It was everyone else's as well. When you have a pit full of crazy headbangers and moshers, pile driving each other into oblivion, you know that the band playing has gotten you pumped to the max and that was exactly the case with Dionysus.
After that Blackhour got on stage. They hail from Islamabad and are one of the first local bands I discovered. Once they started performing, I noticed that everyone looked almost... disappointed. After performances by the former bands, we all just wanted to headbang the night away. That's what we went for, no? But with Blackhour, you just couldn't find a rhythm or a solid tempo.
Until the vocalist actually decided to open up to us, the vocals blew me away. Swept me off my damned feet! When I heard his voice, all I could think of was, "Yes. Now that is pure talent at its best". I don't know about the rest but I will say that he did Bruce Dickinson justice.
Plus, I really liked his hair.
Their original song 'Age Of war' has some wicked riffs and it's catchy. The Iron Maiden influence is apparent. This isn't just some throwback band. They're doing their thing and damn, they are GOOD at it.
Then it was time for the organizers to hit the stage. Bilbatori. Both the organizers are good friends of mine, but that doesn't mean that I will support them no matter what. The area had pretty much cleared up when they went up except for a few loyal Metalheads.
Okay, maybe just close friends of the band but loyal nevertheless! I'll start off with the positives. Good technique, major skills and the guitarists were like daredevils with their guitars. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough. The vocalist had some... issues. And significant one's as well.
Stage presence was also pretty, pretty low. Everyone knows Metalheads are like angry, perfection-driven bastards. We want music to be delivered flawlessly. Bilbatori failed to do that... to an extent.
They did a cover of Slayer's 'Angel Of Death' and I will say that they did the song some pretty hardcore justice. It's only fair to go easy on 'em since it was only their second time performing and they improved ten fold from their first performance. I am looking forward to their originals eagerly!
Lastly, I didn't have the honor of watching Inferner perform live since I had to leave but judging from the videos, I'll say that they rocked it. I wasn't there so I can't really judge.
All in all, I'll rate The Catacombs a whopping 7/10. For first timers, Awais and Mehroze (the organizers) did a splendidly good job. Everyone was pleased.
The only drawback that everyone took into consideration was the sound. Other than that it was good and dandy. For me The Catacombs 2013 was a night myself and many others will never forget. We all wish we could have shows like this every month, we've the bands; we've the crowd. We better start jacking midnight joggers for ‘gig-money '! (haha)
Thanks Minahil. Clip below of Dionysus performance at the gig. As he said, sound at the gig was not perfect, but the crowd seem to enjoy it nevertheless.